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Is It Auditory Processing Disorder or ADHD?

Geoff Nixon

By Geoff Nixon

If it’s auditory processing disorder there are natural treatment options

When choosing between auditory processing disorder or ADHD as a reason for a lack of focus, most will choose ADHD because it is the more familiar diagnosis.

But, efficient language processing is critical to all learning.  If a child finds listening exhausting, staying engaged in class can be a challenge. More often than not it is this difficulty with processing that is causing the lack of attention. And so, while many children are put on medication to help them focus, an auditory processing disorder treatment is often more appropriate.

Here is a quick way to distinguish between auditory processing disorder and ADHD.  If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, your inattentive child – who drifts off in class, and cannot read or do homework for long periods — is likely to have a treatable auditory processing disorder.

  1. Will sit down and to a jigsaw or play legos for extended periods
  2. Has good coordination and balance
  3. Does not get lost or disoriented on a team sports field
  4. Had speech issues when younger
  5. Was adopted overseas or hears a different language at home
  6. Struggles to hear properly when there is background noise
  7. Could not rhyme reliably at 3-4 years of age

The two primary causes of inattentiveness are sensory integration issues (tough to resolve, and often best dealt with using OT and a medication program) and auditory processing difficulties.

The latter is a more prevalent cause because language processing, central to all learning and reading, requires a very high level of processing, challenging to many children.  While these difficulties do recede over time, learning is sequential and so lost time is hard to make up.  In most cases, auditory processing difficulties can be resolved with just a few months of treatment.

View more auditory processing disorder symptoms and our checklist by age if you think your child shows signs of APD.

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